Bhubaneswar: The very mention of ‘Barnabodha’ make every Odia nostalgic as this had laid the foundation of his/her formal learning days. And what’s better a day to remember the man, Madhusudan Rao, who wrote this for us in 1895, than his 165th birth anniversary.
This book was recognized and prescribed by the Education Department and more than one lakh copies were sold from 1947 to 1948.
One of the most prolific Odia writers and poets, Madhusudan Rao, was born on January 19 in 1853. Popularly known as ‘Bhaktakabi’, his contribution in the field of education is unforgettable. He was born to Bhagiratha Rao, an employee of Orissa police department at Puri. He lost his mother at the age of five and was raised by his father.
Did you know that his ancestors were from Maharashtra? They belonged to the royal family of Bhonslas from Nagpur and came to Odisha during the Maratha reign. When British colonized eastern India, the family stayed back.
After schooling from various schools in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, he pursued his education at the then Ravenshaw College and served as a teacher later. In 1880, he became the Deputy Inspector of Education and the Inspector of Orissa Schools Association in 1906. His life after 1907 was spent writing and participating in literary discussions.
Some of his remarkable works for children include ‘Sishubodha’, ‘Balabodha’, ‘Sahitya Kusum’, and ‘Prabandhamala’. ‘Utkal Gatha’, ‘Basanta Gatha’ and ‘Padma’ are some of his most popular poems. Magazines like ‘Sikhyabandhu’, ‘Asha’ and ‘Utkal Darpan’, were published with his efforts.
His poem ‘Ki Sundara Aha’ was made into song for the movie ‘Gouri’, and still sung in schools as a prayer song.
He is often referred to as a social reformer for establishing various institutions. He had established the erstwhile Cuttack Town School in 1881, which later came to be known as ‘Bhakta Madhu Bidyapith’, in Cuttack. He also laid the foundation and became the first president of ‘Alochana Sabha’, now ‘Utkal Sahitya Samaj’, in 1890.
A poet, a philosopher and a teacher, he set a milestone and a mark in all of our hearts.